The Michigan Department of Career Development (MDCD) is the
outgrowth of an initiative by then-Gov. John Engler (Executive Order 1999-1) to
split the former Michigan Jobs Commission into two parts. One part became the
MDCD, and the other part became the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
The MDCD concentrates on delivering federally sponsored job training and
placement services, and MEDC is the state’s chief dispenser of corporate welfare
and "economic development" programs.
The mission of the MDCD, according to its 2001 annual
report, is "to continuously improve the Career Development System [to] produce a
workforce with the required skills to maintain and enhance Michigan’s economy."
Then-Gov. Engler preferred to see the department "focus solely on workforce
issues;" however, his Director of department, Barbara Bolin, pressed for an
expanded mission "to increase education and technical skills for career
placement or advancement," and … "to provide services, build partnerships and
coordinate efforts" with the business community.
The MDCD is a coordinating bureaucracy that simply manages
workforce programs. The department is funded largely by the federal government,
which provides 88 percent of its operating money.
In 1998, Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act of
1998 (WIA). Congress intended this legislation to "integrate and streamline
services," as well as encourage "informed consumer choice regarding career
development, universal access to government employment and training services,
more systematic accountability, performance-based management; strong local
governance of employment-related government services, active private sector
participation, and increased labor market responsiveness at state and local
WIA consolidated 17 separate federal programs to coordinate
and control employment and training through a mandatory, national system of
local one-stop career centers (in Michigan they are known as Michigan Works!
Service Centers, or "one-stops") and regional and state workforce development
boards (in Michigan the board is known as the Michigan Works! Association), all
reporting to the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Prior to WIA, federal workforce programs such as job
training and education fell under the federal government’s Job Training
Partnership Act of 1982 (JTPA). Through the 1970s and early 1980s JTPA had
become the largest job-training program in the country. But WIA dramatically
expanded employment services coverage areas, and at the same time began to
displace private labor market activities previously served by the private
staffing services industry. In effect, WIA introduced a new personal entitlement
into the national workforce system: adult job placement for the currently
employed. No longer did recipients have to be unemployed to received services.
However, the state of Michigan is not required under the
normal administration of American federalism to implement the federal statutes,
including the Workforce Investment Act. This state power was reinforced by the
U.S. Supreme Court’s New York decision in 1994.
 The state of Michigan should
refuse to accept federal funding for the programs operated by the MDCD and shut
down the MDCD and eliminate all the programs run through it.
Last Fall, in preparation for the Congressional
reauthorization of the Federal Workforce Investment Act former Director Bolin
recommended an expansion of MDCD functions, and requested an expansion of
federal financing of the Michigan workforce system.
Instead of a call for more federal funding, Gov. Granholm
and her new appointee should use this opportunity to call for an end to federal
intervention in job training and employment.
As demonstrated below, nearly every program provides
services that duplicate, and often interfere with, private sector providers of
identical or superior services. Programs that are not duplicative are capable
of being provided by local community associations or businesses. Although labor
markets, like government planners, are imperfect, they have been operating
efficiently since long before governments began providing job searches and
training for Michigan citizens, and will continue to do so in the absence of
this department. (For more information on refusing federal funds, see Appendix
I.) This department should be eliminated.